Choosing the right breed for your situation
Your success or failure as a chicken-raiser depends a lot on your choice of breeds.
But even before you head to the nearest farm to make the purchase, you should first determine the purpose of your operation. Are you into chicken-raising as a hobby? Are you into it to produce chicken meat? Or is it the first determine the purpose of your operation. Are you into chicken-raising as a hobby? Are you into it to produce chicken meat? Or is it the eggs you want? Is it warm in your farm? Or is it cold?
The answers to these questions matter in your choice of chicken breed. There are many breeds of chicken available in the market, but each of them has distinctive differences in terms of egg production, egg color, temperament, meat production, broodiness, foraging habits, and survival skills.
Having said that, you need to go back to your list to determine your needs.
If it’s egg layer you want, then maybe the leghorn will work for you. Leghorns are good at producing white eggs. They are good at foraging, so they make an ideal choice for free range situations. However, they are not as broody as some of the other breeds ,so they are not an ideal choice if you want to raise chicks in your farm.
You also need to watch out for them if they are on free range. They are likely to be picked off by birds of prey, like hawks, because of their white color. Docile hens, like Buff Orpington, will also cower in fear rather than scamper away to seek shelter when a predator stalks them.
If it’s an aggressive breed you want, then you can go for a Dutch. The downside, however, is that it chases after children.
Children can better appreciate the Bantam, which makes good pet or show bird. This breed is small, agile and fast and cannot be readily captured by a predator. It lays tiny eggs that children would love to have for dinner. Because of its size, though, it’s not meant for meat and egg production. As a rule of thumb, birds that are prolific layers are not known as good meat producers.
Most of the eggs and chicken meat available to American consumers today belong to a few highly specialized breeds used by the commercial poultry industry.
This is a result of the disappearance of family farms that used to house thousands of flocks of chickens.
While they can lay more eggs and produce more meat than the older farm breeds, commercial breeds have lost certain traits, like ability to forage, longevity, tolerance to extreme cold or heat, predator avoidance and broodiness or ability to set and hatch eggs.
So, finally, which Chicken breed should you choose? If it’s the healthier, free range layer you want to raise, then go for breeds known for their optimum egg laying ability, like the leghorn.
It you want to raise broilers for meat, then you should go for a Rhode Island. Another consideration is the breed’s natural disposition.
But even more importantly, you should consider a breed’s tolerance to hot or cold climates. If your farm happens to be in a cold zone, then you’d best go for a breed that can tolerate freezing temperatures and can lay eggs even in the cold of winter.